Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Craft Lesson-Flashbacks

Materials: Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson

Purpose: Many authors use flashbacks in their writing. Flashbacks allow the reader to see an event or action that happened in the past that is significant to the story. However, sometimes it is hard for young writers to work this element into their personal writings. Here students will be able to see many examples of flashbacks from the book and will see how writer’s begin a flashback.

Script: In the book Miracle’s Boys the writer uses flashbacks to show the reader what happened to Lafayette and his brothers in the past. This helps the reader to better understand what is going on in the present. Why else would a writer use a flashback in a story? (Wait for answers and discuss, some additional answers could be character development, unfolding a mystery)

Now, take a look at your book and think back. Where were some flashbacks that you remembered and why were they important to the story? Wait for answers and discuss. If students do not have a lot of answers here are some examples to look at together. Ok, let’s look at some flashbacks together. As we look at the flashbacks as a class let’s discuss why they are important to the story and what the story might be like if you didn’t know this information.

This is a flashback of Charlie explaining to Lafayette how to pray to St. Francis to protect all of the stray animals.
p. 72
This is Ty’ree having a flashback of the day his father died.
p. 99
The Flashback is the incident when Lafayette was punched in the eye and Charlie told him to just hang on until the pain went away.
This flashback shows Lafayette’s mother talking to him about freedom and he responds that he isn’t free because he can’t go out like his brothers.

There are many other flashbacks, these are just a few suggestions.

Now let’s look at what all of the flashbacks have in common. Authors use certain words or ways to lead into flashbacks. In this book the author begins most of the flashback with one of Lafayette’s memories. All authors begin flashbacks differently. Let’s brainstorm some words and phrases that might lead into a flashback. Let’s make a list in our writer’s notebook, remembering that these are not the only ways to begin a flashback, but they are something that will get you started when writing.
Examples of flashback transitions: once, long ago, yesterday, looking back, etc.